Thursday, April 30, 2009
Texting on a keyboard phone: photo by Alton, 2007
in death was spoken
of not so much
for the work which
stood apart from
of character, as
for the latter. A
text is variously
a life, but the purpose
of an individual
To be difficult
is to be difficult.
There are no two
ways about it.
Breakfast Comix Supplement: Tom Raworth
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
At the oasis: dusk, dark intimations,
Faint simoon. Marooned Cassandra, waiting.
Consciousness: wily nets, loosening strings.
Odor of sex. Arpeggio-like oud
Runs up and down stepping-stone vertebrae.
Recumbent Traveller, in halter top,
Consuming some lilac-colored fruit. Moving
Without thought, without knowledge of anything
Into life, as ice melts in the mountains,
As the blue desert wind moves into a dune,
Lifting its yellow tresses, sifting, rushing
Over umber sands to a horizon from
Which night flings up a giant sky, billowing,
Weighed down by tons and tons of mute stars.
Western Sahara: from Palin's Travels
Slinky-toy history: life coils itself
Slowly, and then uncoils, descending the stairs
Defensive reaction by defensive
Reaction. We thought we were only here to please,
Yet as in that old painting of the peasants' feast
The banqueter represents the destroyer.
Eating is not only feeding oneself,
It is digging one's teeth into something.
Peasants at a wedding feast: Harmen Hals (Museum of Fine Art, Budapest)
Metal slinky: photo by Roger McLassus, 2006
Monday, April 27, 2009
Best Western Study: Eric Fischl, 1983
You approach me carrying a book
The instructions you read carry me back beyond birth
To childhood and a courtyard bouncing a ball
The town is silent there is only one recreation
It’s throwing the ball against the wall and waiting
To see if it returns
The wall reverses
The ball bounces the other way
Across this barrier into the future
Where it begets occupations names
This is known as the human heart a muscle
A woman adopts it it enters her chest
She falls from a train
The woman rebounds 500 miles back to her childhood
The heart falls from her clothing you retrieve it
Turn it over in your hand the trademark
Gives the name of a noted maker of balls
Elastic flexible yes but this is awful
Her body is limp not plastic
Your heart is missing from it
You replace your heart in your breast and go on your way
Saturday, April 25, 2009
A tossed-out missive
blows. Who wrote it?
It starts to get dark.
Today also is over.
I go in.
Here’s the bathroom mirror.
Change your expression
in the spring rain
before it’s too late!
| || |
12th daySpring wind
loosened her kimono
from her legs.
Nature no respecter of persons
in the spring wind,
The spring wind
blows through the balustrade.
| || |
A sound from far away.
| || |
| || |
A long day.
| || |
The morning expedition.
| || |
When I felt the spring rain
Thursday, April 23, 2009
In the false-dawn twilight
a rider enquired of a passer-by:
Where is the house of my friend?
The sky paused
The passer-by held a branch of light
which brushed the dark sand
He pointed to an aspen:
before you reach that tree
turn off at the garden path
that leads into a space more green
than any god could dream
and go down that path
as far as the wings of honesty can reach
Continue beyond the end
of the first part of your life
and then turn again
take two steps
toward a flower that grows alone
at the foot of the fountain
of the story of the earth
stop and you will be swallowed up
by fear transparent as water
In the closeness of the space that flows
in one of the surrounding pines
a child has climbed up
to pluck a young bird
from a nest made of light
and you call out to that child
Where is the house of my friend?
(after Sorab Sepehri)
from Where Is the Friend's House, dir. Abbas Kiarostami, 1987
bubbles resonant open
literal yarn beans electricity
tears leafy eddying
garden starfield food
thermostat trick indigo
cirrus slabs zone benzene
bobbin corona newspaper song
Platanus v hispanica Picasso: part of trunk in winter sun: photo by Opuntia, 2007
Euphorbia supercactus 4: photo by Frank Vincentz, 2007
Banksia (Sydney): photo by C. Coverdale, 2005
Sunday, April 19, 2009
are being stored away
in my brain somewhere
even tho I’m not here
to pay any attention
They’ll come back later as
variety shows and UHF cabaret
This is what I was thinking, Ted
For instance, while I was
the following music
came into my head:
Overture to Sonata for Trumpets & Strings
by Henry Purcell
Miles Davis: Ssh… Peaceful
Jimmy Reed: Hush, Hush
Merce Cunningham Dance Company performing "Nearly Ninety" at BAM, photo by Stephanie Berger
We went to BAM this afternoon to see "Nearly Ninety," the new piece by Merce Cunningham Dance Company (Merce in fact turned 90 on Thursday). It was phenomenal. Music by a conglomerate of Sonic Youth, John Paul Jones (of Led Zeppelin), and longtime MC collaborator Takehisa Kosugi, costumes by Romeo Gigli, and video by Franc Aleu. It is hard to comprehend how a 90-year-old can make a one-and-a-half hour piece that is so up-to-the-minute, in terms of visuals, sound and design, except that his modus operandi has always been one of choosing people to work with and then letting them create their parts, which come together only at the end. Usually, the dancers do not hear the music until the dress rehearsal. You could feel the excitement in the dancers' faces at times, used, as they have been, to dancing their pieces in silence, or rather to the accompaniment of footfalls and heavy breathing. In the first half, everything combined seamlessly — the music noisily crescendoing and decrescendoing, the watery images projected onto a scrim. Dancers moved in pairs or trios, often slowly, standing on one leg, the other extended, sometimes trembling at the knee, so difficult is it to hold those positions in the stress of a rapidly-changing performance. The dancers, particularly the women, were brilliant. One became so mesmerized by the spectacle — and the simplicity of the choreography — that the strength and control of the dancers was constantly re-emphasized. Sometimes, it was the head and upper body that remained in synch, while spinning; other times, it was a high, slow stretch, followed by a dive by the hands to floor (a gesture repeated several times by different combinations of dancers). The dancers who made the greatest impression on me were Julie Cunningham (a relation?), Jennifer Goggans, David Madoff, Marcie Munnerlyn, and Melissa Toogood. The projections did not work so well in the second half, as they became more literal (we could see close up what the musicians were doing at one point, at another details of dancers), and the progressive removal of scrims forced attention on an awkward neo-Constructivist structure supporting the musicians, whereas it had been more suggestive when we could only make out their vague outlines at the beginning. The piece ended, as all Merce's pieces do, in full flow. Everyone came to take a bow, and Merce himself was wheeled out in a wheelchair. During the standing ovation that followed, he gestured gently several times to the rafters. It could be taken as a recognition that this might be his last season on stage. More likely, like the basketball player who takes on cheerleading duties, he was telling the crowd to pump up the volume. We walked out into bright Brooklyn daylight dazzled.
Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth
to a future
Doodles from Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth
Friday, April 17, 2009
Das Affchen (The Little Monkey): Franz Marc, 1910 (Stadtische Galerie im Lenbachhhaus, Munchen)
Every day there are moments that do not seem to lead directly into the next moment. It must be those isolated moments, laid end to end, in which Zeno's arrow tries to cross the sky.
Since Zeno's arrow exists only inside his paradox, it can never land, and since, in those isolated moments, we too begin to take on the immateriality of a logical demonstration, there is no use in further discussion of that arrow.
A silence falls over the room.
All this is happening in a dream, or perhaps as if in a dream.
This is not the loud logical silence of a glacier but the muffled baffling silence of a dream. In the dream there is a forest, and in the forest there are monkeys whose bodies give off light.
We'll never visit the forest.
It makes more sense at the moment to think of a white monkey slowly fading back over a period of many long years into and gradually being absorbed by the surface--linen, paper, copper, wood--on which it is painted.
Or, perhaps, to think of the final note in a piece of music. The ripples of sound ebb away and finally there is no hint of reverberation left anywhere, silence fills the room.
This is not the cold silence of a paradox but the warm silence of a terrarium kept continually alive and in motion as in a dream without the isolation of sleep. As this silence takes hold of us it appears we're meant to experience life on a dying planet by becoming aware of other life. But this will not be easy.
If a lion could talk, we would not understand him.
Whether or not the white monkey also has such dreams we shall never know.
Study of Birds and Monkeys (detail): Circle of Jan van Kessel, 1660-1670 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)
beings, individuals transcending nationality and race and religion, fragile
eggs faced with a solid wall called The System. To all appearances, we have
no hope of winning. The wall is too high, too strong - and too cold. If we
have any hope of victory at all, it will have to come from our believing in
the utter uniqueness and irreplaceability of our own and others' souls and
from the warmth we gain by joining souls together.
Take a moment to think about this. Each of us possesses a tangible, living
soul. The System has no such thing. We must not allow The System to exploit
us. We must not allow The System to take on a life of its own. The System
did not make us: We made The System.
You bring music, by Oliver Mtukudzi.
And words. Like these of Haruki Murakami, which I freely extract from your citation of his Jerusalem address,
We are all human beings fragile eggs
faced with a solid wall
called The System
The wall is too high
too strong and too cold
If we have any hope at all
it will have to come from our believing in
and others' souls
and by the warmth created by
joining souls together
I think I hear you, or anyway am feeling in the dark (my own obscure dilation) for the musical line that leads me, in the Oliver Mtukudzi and Harumi Murakami messages of belief and hope, lights in the windows of our fleeting houses amid the cold night, to your voice in this. We may as well join our souls together as not.
Don't let it bring you down
The angelic innocence beyond irony yet changed by experience. A hopeful uncertainty, a whistling in the dark.
That whiny-voiced awkward angel in a lumberjack shirt. Strangeness, innocence and belief. Don't let it bring you down. But when I hear it in my mind, late on a cold night, amid the obscure dilation of my mental wanderings, the high voice of the whiny angel that begins to sing that line--once perhaps as innocent as I would have imagined the voice of this angel of Domenico Ghirlandaio--
it sounds troubled in a way that had not, formerly, occurred to me.
Now when I replay the song in my head I get stuck on the castles burning bit, and try to sort that out; the no one turning, the no one coming round; the coldness and darkness of the frozen North Woods in winter under the aching deep starlight above the hockey rink. The lights in the sky, the electromagnetic auras.
What happens after the castles burn down?
I think of some very different angelic musicians, the Grunewald Concert of Angels, going on with their concert despite their tragic knowledge of--indeed, being in eternity, they have already seen it--the Inevitability of the Something Awful. They know what you and I know. They appear understandably brought down by knowing it. One would not dare say to them, Don't it let bring you down. Down is their kingdom of Up. They appear brought down rather completely. And yet they go on with the show. With their curious copper green skin and lizardlike digital appendages crawling over the strings to produce the astonishing chords of the unheard Angelic Concerto.
Concert of Angels (details): Matthias Grunewald, c. 1515 (Musée d'Unterlinden, Colmar)
Madonna and Child Enthroned between Angels and Saints (detail): Domenico Ghirlandaio, c. 1486 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Heron 3: photo by Tom Raworth, 2008
Drowsiness, identity drifting,
some kind of white
flower seen through isinglass,
the moment before sleep
as the foretaste of the moment
before death – experience
of space receding, forgetfulness,
fate a self held mesh
in time like dust in a net
through which breath sifts with
the same kind of wet thin
cloth to skin feeling
as of gauze or muslin
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Sunset on the Grass 5: Flint Hills, Kansas: photo by Dennis Toll, 2008
The big bluestem has roots six feet deep.
Indian grass grows with the bluestem;
switch grass also ripples there in the wind.
Going west you get less rain:
the little bluestem grows waist high, and so does
the side oats grama, and the bearded needlegrass.
Further west, the short grass of the Plains grows:
the blue grama, knee high; and the buffalo
grass, which grows up to the ankles.
"...and there he was, ragged, splendid, wild, sticking out of the expectable heraldry of the national pastime like a gigantic puce-and-mauve sore thumb rampant on a field of snow-white jock straps..."
In 1976 professional baseball invented a Man of the Year Award specifically for Mark Fidrych. In December of that year he flew from Massachusetts to L.A. for the ceremony, which was staged as part of the Major League Baseball annual winter meetings.
Before the ceremony, Mark was a bit nervous about the prospect of rubbing shoulders with Hollywood celebrities.
We were hanging out after, and I asked him what the show had been like.
He boarded one of his inimitable milk-run "trains of thought."
"Man, I just had a whale of a time. I met Don Rickles, Frank Sinatra, Monte Hall, Cary Grant, Pat Henry...Y'know, when I first went there, I said this is gonna be--this is gonna stink. To me, y'know? Because I just felt that it wasn't what I thought it was--y'know, what I wanted it to be. But then, as it was, it turned out they really treated you well. Very well, y'know?
"But these guys--I'll clue ya, these actors, man, they were neat. I just never thought it'd be that much fun. I mean, are you kiddin' me? My mother woulda went nuts to meet Cary Grant. And Frank Sinatra! She'd have been goin' nuts! Because that's the age that she grew up in, y'know? And like to me, it was just neat meetin' em. But my mother, oh, that woulda--it woulda been her highlight, if ever. It was a highlight to me. Like Monte Hall was probably more of a highlight to me, because I've watched Monte Hall. You know what I mean? Where Frank Sinatra, his stuff I really didn't watch too much except for if he was in a bad-ass movie, y'know?..But Cary Grant, I used to see him a lot, y'know? But Monte Hall I'd have to say was really the guy that--cause they just cracked up laughin'. I said, Hey--this guy goes, Here, you wanna meet Monte Hall? I said, Whoa, no, don't tell me that!"
From No Big Deal: photo Clifton Boutelle
In Which Today's Most Popular Bird Whistles Some Pretty Funny Tunes
Percy Bysshe Shelley certainly was a great poet, but he obviously knew from nothing about baseball:
Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert....
As baseball fans in Detroit and elsewhere can tell you, the line has got to read, "Bird thou always art...." for Mark (The Bird) Fidrych of the Tigers is one of the blithest spirits baseball has ever seen, heir to the tradition of heroic innocence established by such men as Rube Marquard and Germany Schaefer and carried on by the likes of Casey Stengel and Dizzy Dean. The tradition seemed to have run out of gas in this age of big-bucks baseball, but Fidrych has singlehandedly refueled it—and become, at the age of 23, a quasi-mythic figure in the process.
Myths and legends all seem to have their ghostwriters today, so it's no surprise that Fidrych has produced something called No Big Deal (Lippincott, $8.95), in collaboration with a writer named Tom Clark. But this being Fidrych, this book is different. Instead of an as-told-to autobiography it is done in question-and-answer form; and instead of your basic for-kids-only hagiography, it is pretty much warts-and-all—though The Bird, predictably, sports some amusing warts.
Clark says in his introduction, "Interviewing Mark is like being thrown into the water at an early age. You learn how to float in time, then you take a few strokes, then you're in the swim of it." He's right. Fidrych talks in waves and floods, splattering his sentences with apostrophes and italics and exclamation points. When he gets excited he's likely to shout, "Voom!" (he loves cars), and when he doesn't like the flow of the chatter he'll cry out, "Whoa!"
He is also a very, very funny talker and he loves to tell stories. My favorites revolve around the days when he played in the Appalachian League and lived in the Jim Dandy Trailer Camp, but others may fancy his encounter with Elton John ("He goes, I know a little bit about you. I said, Whoa. He's shock-in' the hell outa me.... I was lovin' it, though"), or the time Mickey Stanley visited his apartment and checked out all the groupies hanging around. ( Stanley said, "...you oughta make it a meat shop. Put numbers out there, it's so bad.")
Fidrych stories are like peanuts; once started, you can't stop. Since No Big Deal is full of them, it may well prove to be the funniest sports book of the year. Voom!
"Because, 'hey, that's what you call life.'"
New York Times
April 13, 2009
Mark Fidrych, Baseball’s Beloved ‘Bird,’ Dies at 54
DETROIT — Mark Fidrych, the golden-haired, eccentric pitcher known as the Bird, who became a rookie phenomenon for the Detroit Tigers in 1976 and later saw his career cut short by injury, died Monday. He was 54.
His death occurred on his farm in Northborough, Mass., Joseph D. Early Jr., the district attorney for Worcester County, said in a statement.
A family friend discovered Fidrych’s body beneath a Mack dump truck, Early said. He appeared to have been working on the truck at the time. The Massachusetts State Police began an investigation into the accident, he said.
During the summer of the nation’s bicentennial, Fidrych (pronounced FID-rich), then 21, electrified the baseball world.
“He was the most charismatic player we had during my time with the Tigers,” said Ernie Harwell, the veteran announcer, who began broadcasting Tigers games in 1960. “I didn’t see anybody else who was as much of a character as he was."
Fidrych’s record in 1976 was 19-9, with an earned run average of 2.34, the best in major league baseball, and 97 strikeouts. His 24 complete games were the year’s best in the American League.
Fidrych was named the rookie of the year in the American League and finished second to Jim Palmer in the race for the Cy Young Award.
Called “the fidgety, 6-foot-3 bundle of nerves” by The New York Times, Fidrych had a mop of golden curls and a gawky gait that prompted a minor league manager, Jeff Hogan, to compare him to Big Bird, the “Sesame Street” character.
The nickname — shortened to the Bird — stuck, but his appearance was only one of Fidrych’s vivid traits.
He often talked to the baseball, fidgeted on the mound and got down on his knees to scratch at the dirt. Fidrych would swagger around the grass after every out and was finicky about baseballs, refusing to reuse one if an opposing player got a hit, and rejecting fresh ones he declared to have dents.
He liked to jump over the white infield lines on his way to the mound, with a wide, toothy grin that, coupled with his hair, made him easy to spot even from the upper reaches of Tiger Stadium.
“Everybody really had a fondness for this young guy, especially the young girls,” Harwell said. “After he got a haircut, they’d run into the barbershop to see if they could get the curls off the floor."
Mark Steven Fidrych was born Aug. 15, 1954, in Worcester, Mass. His wife, Ann, whom he married in 1986, and a daughter, Jessica, survive him.
The son of an assistant school principal, Fidrych attended public and private schools in Worcester and entered the 1974 amateur draft.
But Fidrych, a right-hander, was not picked until the 10th round, and he spent two seasons in the minor leagues before making the Tigers after spring training in 1976.
He threw a few innings as a relief pitcher and made his first start in May. He captured the attention of Tigers fans in his first game as a starter by throwing seven no-hit innings and allowing only two hits in a 2-1 victory against the Cleveland Indians.
A month later, Fidrych pitched the Tigers to a 5-1 victory over the Yankees in a nationally televised game in front of a capacity crowd at Tiger Stadium. Fans, who rocked the stadium with applause, refused to leave until Fidrych came out from the dugout to tip his cap.
Weeks later, he was named the starting pitcher in the 1976 All-Star Game. But he gave up two runs and took the loss as the National League won, 7-1.
Still, Fidrych’s reputation grew as the season progressed, drawing near-capacity crowds to stadiums across the country as he performed his antics and kept winning ballgames, falling one short of 20 victories.
The Tigers, who paid him the league minimum, $16,500, for the 1976 season, gave him a $25,000 bonus and signed him to a three-year contract worth $255,000.
Picking up a series of lucrative endorsements, including a deal with Aqua-Velva, an aftershave maker (he joked to The Detroit Free Press that “it was a lotion, not an aftershave, because I really wasn’t shaving yet”), Fidrych wrote an autobiography with the author Tom Clark called “No Big Deal.”
But as it turned out, his rookie season was his biggest.
Fidrych sustained two serious injuries as soon as the 1977 season began, tearing the cartilage in a knee while cavorting on the field in spring training, then suffering a rotator cuff injury during an early-season game.
“I was playing Baltimore in Baltimore, and about the fifth inning, something happened,” Fidrych wrote. “The arm just went dead."
The injury was not diagnosed until 1986, but by then Fidrych’s career was long finished. After 1976, he played in only 27 games through 1980. Released by the Tigers in 1981, Fidrych competed briefly with a minor league team owned by the Boston Red Sox.
His lifetime major league record was 29-19, with a lifetime E.R.A. of 3.10, in 58 games, all but two of them starts.
Fidrych went home to central Massachusetts, where he bought a dump truck, becoming a licensed commercial truck driver, and eventually his farm in Northborough, where his family owned a diner.
Fidrych returned to Tiger Stadium in 1999 for ceremonies marking the last game there. A cheer went up from the crowd when Fidrych pawed at the dirt on the mound.
“He was a little naïve, just a sweet kid, really,” Harwell said. “He captured the public’s imagination.”________
April 13, 2009
This 1978 card and another team card from 1977 are the last possible traces in my incomplete collection of the all-time single season leader in joy. I believe the Bird is in the back row, second from right. I’ve talked about him before on this site, but I don’t feel as if I’ve approached the singular effect he had on my childhood. To me, he was everything good from the 1970s wrapped up into one inimitable package. He’s the Pet Rock, mood rings, Morganna the Kissing Bandit, CB radio, Sasquatch. He’s Saturday morning cartoons and spaghettios and good-natured fun-loving longhaired yahoos piling into a customized van to go to the Foghat concert. He’s the magic of Doug Henning and the bright-colored fantasies of HR Puffnstuff and the glossy neon of Dynamite magazine. He’s Alfred E. Neuman. He’s that moment when you’re a kid and you start laughing about something and you don’t think you’ll ever be able to stop. He’s the moment when you realize you’re no longer a kid. I never knew him but to smile at him on TV and in magazines and, of course, baseball cards, but when I heard he was found dead today, underneath a pickup truck he was apparently trying to fix, I couldn’t breathe. For a couple seconds I couldn’t fucking breathe.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Seaford: West: photo by Tom Raworth, 2009
The sea repeats itself in dreams, a green-grey world of water
Creatures from the great star rebus haunt and run
Leaving the emptiness of the day behind as kelp shrouds
Thoughts, memories, reflections, doubts
Pale blank clouds like woolly fish in mist pink distance floating
The sea repeats itself in dreams from the great star rebus
The beach stretches as far as the headland sand bar
Clean detached waves wash over dry small stones
The water is perfectly still, restructuring everything
Before the light radiates, where do you place it,
back there or out here in the pre-world
of street riot and armed detachments
grown commonplace, where the beam rotates like a mars light,
thought is as cautiously leashed as a bungee cable jumper
entrusted to a body beyond your body -- is there
a body there, is it real, can you touch it
through the dark fire of the pre-world
that closes in? The presence of energy within
the elastic net fate weaves is the reckless
daredevil of the pre-world; fate allows it three
leaps, two snaps back, causing suffering,
causing hells; creating the body of desire,
suspending it in the vastness of space,
expanding it, disrupting it, offering it intense
resistance, whereof it can know itself.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Summer Evening: Edward Hopper, 1947
Take off that apron
And put your red dress on
On second thought
Take off that red dress
And lay back
On my big brass bed
In your pink slip
The one with flowers sewn on it
Not the one
That certifies the registration of your auto
It’s a lovely auto
I just don’t like it
Because it has kudzu vines
Growing out of its body
And you know how I hate kudzu vines